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Literature Review Guide: Home

What is a Literature Review?

A literature review is the review of the literature around your thesis, hypothesis or research question. A literature review identifies, evaluates and synthesizes the relevant literature within a particular field of research. It highlights what has already been done, what is generally accepted, what is emerging, what is the current state of thinking on the topic and identifies gaps in the research.

You need to define your research problem to search the literature. Defining your research problem will identify what to read, and reading might further define your research problem. 

Depending on the type of literature review, it might be selective or comprehensive. 

The literature included in your literature review predominantly includes peer-reviewed publications searchable through commercial databases. For example academic journal articles, books and conference proceedings. To avoid publication bias, you should also include grey literature, which is information that is unpublished or not commercially published. For example annual reports, dissertations, blogs, photographs or fact sheets. 

Remember to always consult with your research supervisor or lecturer about requirements for your particular literature review.

Types of Literature Reviews

A literature review can be a part of a larger work or a stand alone work, and a it can be selective or comprehensive. 


Adapted from libncsu. (2009, July 30). Literature reviews: An overview for graduate students [Video]. YouTube.

Literature Review Process

The process can be broken down into 6 steps as explained in The Literature Review: Six Steps to Success by Lawrence A. Machi and Brenda T. McEvoy, page 5, as demonstrated below. 




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Books on Literature Reviews

Doing a Literature Review

This book can provide an excellent framework for bolstering what is often an experiential process - doing a literature review. It is best seen alongside the supervisor, as a guide, through the multidimensional sea of academic literature.

Systematic Approaches to a Successful Literature Review

Showing you how to take a structured and organized approach to a wide range of literature review types, this book helps you to choose which approach is right for your research. Packed with constructive tools, examples, case studies and hands-on exercises, the book covers the full range of literature review techniques. With an emphasis on the practical skills, this guide is essential for any student or researcher needing to get from first steps to a successful literature review.

Doing a Systematic Review

If you are a Masters or a PhD student conducting a systematic review for your dissertation or thesis, then this is the book for you! Written by an expert team of authors with years of experience in conducting systematic reviews and supervising students doing systematic reviews, the book provides a roadmap to guide you through the process.

Comprehensive Systematic Review for Advanced Practice Nursing, Second Edition

The book presents the knowledge and skills necessary to conduct a foundational comprehensive systematic review (CSR). It encompasses the complexities of the entire process, from asking clinical questions to getting the evidence into practice. It describes how to find and appraise relevant studies, including the non-published grey literature and criteria for selecting or excluding studies, and describes how to use the results in practice, making it a comprehensive toolkit of resources for completing a systematic review

Conducting Research Literature Reviews

1. Reviewing the Literature: Why? For Whom? How? -- 2. Searching and Screening: The Practical Screen and Methodological Quality (Part 1-Research Design and Sampling) -- 3. Searching and Screening: Methodological Quality (Part 2-Collection, Interventions, Analysis, Results, and Conclusions) -- 4. Doing the Review: A Reader's Guide Chapter -- 5. What Did You Find? Synthesizing Results.

Doing a Literature Review in Health and Social Care: a Practical Guide

This bestselling book is a step-by-step guide to doing a literature review in health and social care. It is vital reading for all those undertaking their undergraduate or postgraduate dissertation or any research module which involves a literature review. The book provides a practical guide to doing a literature review from start to finish.

Systematic Reviews in the Social Sciences

The systematic literature review is different to the more traditional literature review which often uses selected pieces of evidence to explore or develop a theory, or assemble a strong argument. A systematic literature review has different goals: in particular, to identify and summarise all the relevant research in order to answer a particular question, and to do this in a way that is transparent.

Systematic Reviews to Answer Health Care Questions

Systematic Evidence Reviews to Answer Health Care Questions is your most effective, A-to-Z guide to conducting thorough, comprehensive systematic reviews. By breaking down topics and essential steps, this volume teaches you how to form key questions, select evidence, and perform illuminating review not just in predictable circumstances, but when basic rules don't apply--honing your ability to think critically and solve problems. 

Succeeding with Your Literature Review: a Handbook for Students

Written by an author with extensive experience of supervising and examining undergraduate, Masters and doctoral dissertations, this book covers the latest trends, such as: RSS feeds, wikis, grey literature, blogs and forms of open access publishing. The book also includes examples of common pitfalls, good practice, key terms and questions to reinforce student learning and reflection. Succeeding with your Literature Review is relevant in all subject areas and is essential reading for third year undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Doing Systematic Literature Rev Legal

While legal scholars have increasingly started to emphasize the importance of conducting a systematic literature review prior to embarking on a larger academic research venture, discipline-specific guidelines have been absent until now. This book fills this gap by offering a step-by-step guide to doing a systematic literature review in legal scholarship. It first discusses what a systematic literature review is and why it is so important. It then moves consecutively through the process of delineating your topic and determining what information to search for, designing and carrying out a systematic search for relevant literature, critically appraising the literature, and synthesizing, discussing and presenting your findings. 

The Literature Review

This new edition of the best-selling book offers graduate students in education and the social sciences a road map to developing and writing an effective literature review for a research project, thesis, or dissertation.

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